California - 2012 State Policy Information California State Flag 

Below are results for California from the 2011/2012 Water Efficiency and Conservation State Scorecard survey.

Use the links below to jump to a specific question:

Q1. State Agencies  Q8. Water Loss  Q15. Implementation Requirements 
Q2. Toilet Regulations    Q9. Permitting     Q16. State Funding for Conservation 
Q3. Showerhead Regulations  Q10. Drought Plans  Q17. Technical Assistance 
Q4. Urinal Regulations  Q11. Conservation Plans  Q18. Volumetric Billing   
Q5. Clothes Washer Regulations  Q12. Authority to Approve Plans  Q19. Metered Connections  
Q6. PRSV Regulations  Q13. Plan Update Frequency  Q20. ET Microclimate Information   
Q7. Building or Plumbing Codes  Q14. Planning Framework  Additional Information 

 

 

 

 

 
  


  1. What state agency or agencies are in charge of drinking water conservation/efficiency?

    There are five state agencies with major responsibilities related to water conservation and efficiency:

    California Department of Public Health (permits operation of water treatment and distribution, monitors drinking water quality)
    California State Water Resources Control Board (water rights determinations, waste water regulation)
    California Public Utilities Commission (regulates Investor Owned Utilities)
    California Department of Water Resources (manages State Water Project, statewide water planning)
    California Energy Commission (appliance efficiency regulations)
     
  2. Does the state have a water consumption regulation for toilets that is more stringent than the federal standard?  

    Yes.

    CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 17921.3

    "On and after January 1, 2014, all water closets, other than institutional water closets, sold or installed in this state shall be high-efficiency water closets… ‘High-efficiency water closet’ means a water closet that is either of the following: (A) A dual flush water closet with an effective flush volume that does not exceed 1.28 gallons, where effective flush volume is defined as the composite, average flush volume of two reduced flushes and one full flush. Flush volumes shall be tested in accordance with ASME A112.19.2 and ASME A112.19.14. (B) A single flush water closet where the effective flush volume shall not exceed 1.28 gallons.” 

    CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 17921.3 Text
     
  3. Does the state have a water consumption regulation for showerheads that is more stringent than the federal standard? 

    On August 12, 2015 the California Energy Commission approved new standards for showerheads.  After July 1, 2016 showerheads in California will be required to have a 2.0 gpm or less flow rate, and after July 1, 2018 it will change to 1.8 gpm or less.

    California Code of Regulations § 1605.3. State Standards for Non-Federally-Regulated Appliances
     

    Related Press Release 
     
     
  4. Does the state have a water consumption regulation for urinals that is more stringent than the federal standard?

    Yes.

    CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 17921.3

    “On and after January 1, 2014, all urinals, other than blow-out urinals, sold or installed in this state shall be high-efficiency urinals… ‘High-efficiency urinal’ means a urinal that uses no more than 0.5 gallons per flush.” 

    CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 17921.3 Text

    On April 8, 2015 the California Energy Commission adopted emergency regulations, under the Governor's Executive Order B-29-15, establishing efficiency standards for urinals that exceed current standards and will take effect on January 1, 2016. 
     
    “Urinals shall not consume more than 0.125 gallons per flush.” (Excludes mental health facilities and prisons.)
    PRESS RELEASE: Energy Commission Approves Water Appliance Standards to Save More Than 100 Billion Gallons Per Year
     
  5. Does the state have a water consumption regulation for clothes washers that is more stringent than the federal standard? 

    No
     
  6. Does the state have a water consumption regulation for pre-rinse spray valves that is more stringent than the federal standard?  

    No
     
  7. Does the state have mandatory building or plumbing codes requiring water efficient products that exceed the federal standard? 

    On April 8, 2015 the California Energy Commission adopted emergency regulations, under the Governor's Executive Order B-29-15,  establishing efficiency standards for faucets that will take effect on January 1, 2016.

    “Residential lavatory faucets shall not exceed 1.2 gallons per minute flow rate.  Kitchen faucets shall not exceed 1.8 gallons per minute flow rate and may have capability to increase to 2.2 gallons per minute momentarily for filling pots and pans.  Public lavatory faucets shall not exceed 0.5 gallon per minute flow rate.” 

    PRESS RELEASE: Energy Commission Approves Water Appliance Standards to Save More Than 100 Billion Gallons Per Year 

    Additionally, the 2013 California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) became effective January 1, 2014 and contains standards applicable to residential and non-residential buildings throughout California, including schools and community colleges.  CALGreen applies to new construction and additions that “increase the building’s conditioned area.” 

    2013 California Green Building Standards Code Website

    2013 California Green Building Standards Code Residential Mandatory Measures
           
    2013 California Green Building Standards Code Nonresidential Mandatory Measures
      
  8. Does the state have any regulations or policies for water utilities regarding water loss in the utility distribution system?  

    Yes.

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10631(f)

    "A plan shall be adopted in accordance with this chapter that shall do all of the following… (f) Provide a description of the supplier's water demand management measures. This description shall include all of the following… (1) A description of each water demand management measure that is currently being implemented, or scheduled for implementation, including the steps necessary to implement any proposed measures, including, but not limited to, all of the following… (C) System water audits, leak detection, and repair.”

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10630-10634 Text

    On October 9, 2015, Senate Bill No. 555 was signed into law by the Governor.  This Bill requires "each urban retail water supplier, on or before October 1, 2017, and on or before October 1 of each year thereafter, to submit a completed and validated water loss audit report for the previous calendar year or previous fiscal year as prescribed by rules adopted by the Department of Water Resources on or before January 1, 2017, and updated as provided. The bill would require the department to post all validated water loss audit reports on its Internet Web site in a manner that allows for comparisons across water suppliers and to make these reports available for public viewing."
     
     California SB 555 Water Loss
      
  9. Does the state require conservation activities as part of its water permitting process or water right permit?

    Yes.

    CAL. CODE REGS. TITLE 23 § 780

    "In addition to the applicable standard terms which are included in each permit, the following terms shall be included in every water right permit issued by the board, and shall be included in every existing permit as a condition for granting an extension of time to commence or to complete construction work or to apply the water to full beneficial use: (a) Continuing Authority… The continuing authority of the board may be exercised by imposing specific requirements over and above those contained in this permit with a view to eliminating waste of water and to meeting the reasonable water requirements of permittee without unreasonable draft on the source. Permittee may be required to implement a water conservation plan, features of which may include but not necessarily be limited to: (1) reusing or reclaiming the water allocated; (2) using water reclaimed by another entity instead of all or part of the water allocated; … (4) suppressing evaporation losses from water surfaces; … and (6) to installing, maintaining, and operating efficient water measuring devices to assure compliance with the quantity limitations of this permit and to determine accurately water use as against reasonable water requirements for the authorized project." 

    CAL. CODE REGS. TITLE 23 § 780 Text  
      
  10. Does the state require preparation of drought emergency plans by water utilities or cities on any prescribed schedule?  

    Yes.

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10620(a):

    "Every urban water supplier shall prepare and adopt an urban water management plan."

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10631:

    "A plan shall be adopted in accordance with this chapter that shall do all of the following: . . . (a) Describe the service area of the supplier, including current and projected population, climate, and other demographic factors affecting the supplier's water management planning. The projected population estimates shall be based upon data from the state, regional, or local service agency population projections within the service area of the urban water supplier and shall be in five-year increments to 20 years or as far as data is available. . . . (c)(1) Describe the reliability of the water supply and vulnerability to seasonal or climatic shortage, to the extent practicable, and provide data for each of the following:(A) An average water year.  (B) A single dry water year.  (C) Multiple dry water years."

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10632:

    "(a) The plan shall provide an urban water shortage contingency analysis that includes each of the following elements that are within the authority of the urban water supplier:
    (1) Stages of action to be undertaken by the urban water supplier in response to water supply shortages, including up to a 50 percent reduction in water supply, and an outline of specific water supply conditions that are applicable to each stage.
    (2) An estimate of the minimum water supply available during each of the next three water years based on the driest three-year historic sequence for the agency's water supply."

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10620 Text
    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10630-10634 Text
     
  11. Does the state have a mandatory planning requirement for potable water conservation/efficiency separate from drought emergency plans?   

    Yes.  Conservation is a required component of Urban Water Management Plans.  Additionally, information regarding California's 20x2020 program must be included (see details under CAL. WAT. CODE § 10608.16-10608.44).

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10620:

    "(a) Every urban water supplier shall prepare and adopt an urban water management plan . . . . (b) Every person that becomes an urban water supplier shall adopt an urban water management plan within one year after it has become an urban water supplier. . . ." 

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10631:

    "A plan shall be adopted in accordance with this chapter that shall do all of the following: . . . (f) Provide a description of the supplier's water demand management measures. This description shall include all of the following:
    (1) A description of each water demand management measure that is currently being implemented, or scheduled for implementation, including the steps necessary to implement any proposed measures, including, but not limited to, all of the following..."

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10608.16(a): 

    "The state shall achieve a 20-percent reduction in urban per capita water use in California on or before December 31, 2020."

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10608.20:

    "(e) An urban retail water supplier shall include in its urban water management plan due in 2010 pursuant to Part 2.6 (commencing with Section 10610) the baseline daily per capita water use, urban water use target, interim urban water use target, and compliance daily per capita water use, along with the bases for determining those estimates, including references to supporting data...(g) An urban retail water supplier may update its 2020 urban water use target in its 2015 urban water management plan required pursuant to Part 2.6 (commencing with Section 10610)."

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10620 Text
    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10630-10634 Text 
    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10608.16-10608.44 Text
     
  12. Does the state have the authority to approve or reject the conservation plans? 

    No
      
  13. How often does the state require the water utilities to submit a potable water conservation plan (not part of a drought emergency plan)? 

    5 years.

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10621(a):

    "Each urban water supplier shall update its plan at least once every five years on or before December 31, in years ending in five and zero."
     
  14. If the state has a mandatory planning requirement for potable water conservation separate from drought emergency plans, is there a framework or prescribed methodology?

    Yes.

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10631:

    "A plan shall be adopted in accordance with this chapter that shall do all of the following: . . . (f) Provide a description of the supplier's water demand management measures. This description shall include all of the following:
    (1) A description of each water demand management measure that is currently being implemented, or scheduled for implementation, including the steps necessary to implement any proposed measures, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
    (A) Water survey programs for single-family residential and multifamily residential customers.
    (B) Residential plumbing retrofit.
    (C) System water audits, leak detection, and repair.
    (D) Metering with commodity rates for all new connections and retrofit of existing connections.
    (E) Large landscape conservation programs and incentives.
    (F) High-efficiency washing machine rebate programs.
    (G) Public information programs.
    (H) School education programs.
    (I) Conservation programs for commercial, industrial, and institutional accounts.
    (J) Wholesale agency programs.
    (K) Conservation pricing.
    (L) Water conservation coordinator.
    (M) Water waste prohibition.
    (N) Residential ultra-low-flush toilet replacement programs."

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10630-10634 Text 
     
      
  15. Does the state require water utilities to implement conservation measures, beyond just the preparation and submittal of plans? 

    Yes.

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10631(f)(2):

    The plan must include "A schedule of implementation for all water demand management measure proposed or described in the plan." 

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10643:

    "An urban water supplier shall implement its plan adopted pursuant to this chapter in accordance with the schedule set forth in its plan."  

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10631.5: 

    "(1) Beginning January 1, 2009, the terms of, and eligibility for, a water management grant or loan made to an urban water supplier and awarded or administered by the department, state board, or California Bay-Delta Authority or its successor agency shall be conditioned on the implementation of the water demand management measures . . . . (2) For the purposes of this section, water management grants and loans include funding for programs and projects for surface water or groundwater storage, recycling, desalination, water conservation, water supply reliability, and water supply augmentation. . . .  (3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the department shall determine that an urban water supplier is eligible for a water management grant or loan even though the supplier is not implementing all of the water demand management measures described in Section 10631, if the urban water supplier has submitted to the department for approval a schedule, financing plan, and budget, to be included in the grant or loan agreement, for implementation of the water demand management measures. . . . (4)(A) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the department shall determine that an urban water supplier is eligible for a water management grant or loan even though the supplier is not implementing all of the water demand management measures described in Section 10631, if an urban water supplier submits to the department for approval documentation demonstrating that a water demand management measure is not locally cost effective." 

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10656:

    "An urban water supplier that does not prepare, adopt, and submit its urban water management plan to the department in accordance with this part, is ineligible to receive funding pursuant to Division 24 (commencing with Section 78500) or Division 26 (commencing with Section 79000), or receive drought assistance from the state until the urban water management plan is submitted pursuant to this article."

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10608.24:

    "(a) Each urban retail water supplier shall meet its interim urban water use target by December 31, 2015.  (b) Each urban retail water supplier shall meet its urban water use target by December 31, 2020."

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10630-10634 Text
    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10640-10645 Text
    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10656 Text
    CAL. WAT. CODE § 10608.16-10608.44 Text
     
  16. Does the state offer financial assistance to utilities, cities, or counties for urban water conservation programs such as a revolving loan fund? Grants?  Bonds?  Appropriations?

    Yes.  California has funding resources beyond the state revolving fund programs.

    Integrated Regional Water Management Grants

    Department of Water Resources (DWR) Bond Management System 
      
  17. Does the state offer technical assistance for urban water conservation programs? 

    Yes.

    Technical assistance is available through staff in the Department of Water Resources’ Office of Water Use Efficiency.

    Technical assistance is also provided by the California Urban Water Conservation Council to those water utilities who have signed the Memorandum of Understanding regarding Urban Water Conservation in California.
      
  18. Does the state require volumetric billing?

    Yes.

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 527(a):

    “… an urban water supplier that, on or after January 1, 2004, receives water from the federal Central Valley Project under a water service contract or subcontract executed pursuant to Section 485h(c) of Title 43 of the United States Code with the Bureau of Reclamation of the United States Department of the Interior shall do both of the following… (2) On and after March 1, 2013, or according to the terms of the Central Valley Project water contract in operation, charge customers for water based on the actual volume of deliveries, as measured by a water meter.”

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 526(a)
    “An urban water supplier that is not subject to Section 526 shall do both of the following… (2) (A) Charge each customer that has a service connection for which a water meter has been installed based on the actual volume of deliveries as measured by the water meter, beginning on or before January 1, 2010.”

    CAL. WAT. CODE § 525-529 Text  
      
  19. What percentage or number of publicly supplied water connections (residential and nonresidential) are metered in your state?
     
     
  20. Does the state provide statewide ET microclimate information for urban landscapes?  

    Yes.

    The Department of Water Resources' Office of Water Use Efficiency maintains the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) which provides reference evapotranspiration microclimate information by zip code.
     

Additional Information: 
 
California State Water Resources Control Board. (July 15, 2014). Resolution No. 2014-0038 To Adopt an Emergency Regulation for Statewide  Urban Water Conservation 

20x2020 Water Conservation

Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance  

CUWCC Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) 

CPUC Water Action Plan (for investor-owned utilities)

CA Water Plan 2009  
 

National Resource Defense Council (2013) Tackling Water Scarcity: Five Southern California Water Agencies Lead the Way to a More Sustainable Tomorrow